Who Owns The Land? [MST]
Imperialism determined the nature of 20th-century international law and what this meant for the territorial issues in the past, present and future in terms of land property. Thus, unreasonable dispute of lands are found everywhere in the world, with a few privilege groups having the ownership of large chunks of land. Brazil was no exception, historical inequalities prevailed when it came to land distribution. In this context the MST was born - the Movement of the Rural Workers With No Land…
MST started as an organised movement by the late 70’s in the south of Brazil. This region was occupied in the XIXth and XXth centuries mostly by Germans, Polish, and Italians. In the south the available land is scarce and there are lots of people that had no right and no means to secure their piece of territory, so that they can to build their own houses and produce their food. These conditions favoured the rise of MST, that soon spread out to all the rest of Brazil. MST is one of the most single organisations in the world, since it operates in a guerrilla-like strategy, with a ideology based in the legacy of Marx and in the principles of Progressive Christianity. For Political Science’s geeks the MST is like a relic, practically no other organised movement in the world survives to these days with such left wing principles, in a constant struggle to acquire unproductive land to be given to rural workers. Their motto is: Occupy, Resist, Produce.
MST has a very tough relationship with the midia and with the neoliberal groups in society. Their actions - invading lands and resisting to the authorities - have been described as violent, rowdy, terrorist-like! Though, historically, they have been chased, and murdered. In 1996, during a quarrel with the brazilian military police, 19 members of the MST were executed, in what went to the history books as the Massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás. Annually, the MST celebrates the living memory of their martyrs, and they praise the movement’s resistance.
The conquer of land is just the first step for the land reform, they say. The resistance lives on…
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images by ©Miguel Pinheiro
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Eldorado dos Carajás (Pará, Brazil), little boy wondering!
Eldorado dos Carajás (Pará, Brazil), the celebrations are rich in traditional elements of local folklore. With garnishes such as flowers and colourful costumes, they sing and dance the local stories of a shared collective culture.
Eldorado dos Carajás (Pará, Brazil), the youngest recruited members of MST march with white crosses to celebrate the memory of the martyrs of the massacre of 17th of April, 1996.
17th of April Settlement, a stretch of land near the land where the Massacre took place. We constantly found churches and crosses at MST's settlements. The MST's ideology is influenced by the principles of Progressive Christianity.
17th of April Settlement, a local worker collects the native plants and transform them into housing materials.
Hugo Chavez Settlement, named after the former president of Venezuela visited this site, to the massive joy of the MST members. Needless to say, it is not easy to access these lands, one must travel several hours by car in bumpy "roads", filled with holes. And if it starts to rain, then it can turn into a huge problem! Hugo Chavez offered is support and friendship to the Movement. At the entrance, one of his quotes says: "We will never be able to make the great future we aspire to, if we don't have the knowledge of our great past."
Hugo Chavez Settlement, the entrance is always well protected. It is not that uncommon that the MST's Settlements are attacked by surprise. Sometimes is the police, other times a militia at the service of powerful landowners... The aim is to drive them away of the occupied lands, that were empty before their arrival.